The last few days in Montesole and in the Giardino di Pimpinella have been so rich in human contact that we drive on Southwards brimming with emotions. It is such a privilege to experience all of this, but even more so to be able to share it with each other. In the next few days, Frank and I turn in towards each other. We have a few quiet days just with ourselves and the Tuscan landscape before we come to Pisa, where I say good bye for a few days, to fly back to the UK to attend my daughter’s graduation. While Frank stays in Pisa and explores this vibrant city, I spend a couple of days with Lilli in London, soaking up the midwinter sun and feeling extremely proud of my grown-up daughter! I don’t go for all the pomp of graduation ceremonies (I didn’t go to my own) but I do think that Lilli has reached a big milestone and done so with flying colours. It is not easy to earn a living in London as a musician, especially when you have just graduated!
Upon my return to Italy, I find out that Frank’s bicycle was stolen while he was in an internet café. We had been warned, and sure enough, the lock was no deterrent at all. It’s very annoying and of course costly, but it’s only a bike, something that is easily replaceable. We are more concerned about personal things that cannot be so easily replaced, like my instruments. We get warned all the time to park carefully in Italy, especially the further down south we go. But what does this mean exactly, ‘park carefully’? In the last year, we found that away from the tourist zones, little villages seemed ever so safe, but here we are warned that we are just as likely to be robbed in a little village in the middle of nowhere as we are in a big tourist area. This is a bit unsettling as we feel unsure of how to judge the safety of a place.
After Frank has bought his new bike, we set off southwards. Our next stop is a little beach in the middle of nowhere. I was here about 30 years ago with my first boyfriend, on a romantic walkabout trip through Italy. We only had our sleeping bags, not even a tent, so we would just find a spot to lie under some trees. I remember this beach very well, and nothing much has changed: the same low pine trees, a fence made from twigs, and then a long, sandy beach, starry nights and the sound of waves. 30 years ago, there was also a full moon…
In the morning, Frank and I go and forage for firewood. We find some Juniper, ever so aromatic when we saw it up and even more so when we burn it in our stove. As we leave the area, we find a camping place and refill with water. We chat with the owners, an older man on the point of retiring and a younger man who is about to take on the campground. Both seem very friendly and happy people, and they say we can help ourselves to some old chestnut fence poles that they don’t need anymore, to add to our wood-store. It must feel great when you have built up a business and come to the point where you want to let go, to find someone who you get on with, who you can pass the business on to and gently pull out, maybe still working a few days per week, but not having the full responsibility anymore. There is an art to this stage in life too, I think. These two seem to have worked it out.
For more photos and a little video of a street band in Pisa, go to flikr
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